Keep Your Cool

Patients suffering from heat-related illness already are starting to trickle into the emergency room at Wheeling Hospital, and Dr. Matt Lee anticipates additional cases with more high temperatures in the forecast.

Lee, director of the emergency/trauma center, said those who have sought treatment have been either working outside or exercising outdoors. Temperatures are expected to hover around 90 degrees in the coming days.

Signs of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, sweating, weakness, headache, nausea and vomiting.

”It’s difficult on days like these to keep up with fluid loss,” Lee said.

To prevent getting ill, Lee said people should remember to drink plenty of water or sports drinks to replenish what they are losing in the form of sweat. Becoming dehydrated is what causes muscle cramps.

Those who seek treatment at the hospital are often sprayed with a cooling mist and given fluids to drink. In more severe cases, people are given fluids intravenously.

”Heat stroke is the worst form of heat illness. Your skin stops sweating, it changes your mental status and even causes seizures,” Lee said. ”It can be life threatening.”

Lee said if one starts to feel early symptoms of heat illness they should immediately seek refuge inside a cool building. If possible, it is best to avoid the heat in the first place.

”Prevention is the best medicine,” he added.